America’s Army the first-person squad game-cum-recruiting tool has been a massive success, with 3.4 million players registered. So now the US Army has set up the “America’s Army Government Applications office”. It’s a military software house aimed at using the America’s Army engine to develop training and testing programs for military use. Already on the blocks is a virtual White House for secret service agents to run around in.
The games industry has long had a close working relationship with the military. Now with games like America’s Army and Full Spectrum Warrior (originally developed as a US marines training program) and the military redesigning complex control systems to mirror console gamepads, that relationship is out in the open.
We all want accuracy and fidelity in our game simulations, but is the emerging military-entertainment complex a step too far? Are we training kids to become soldiers? And is there a danger that playing at war disasociates us from the realities of conflict? Thoughts please.
If you’re near San Jose on July 23 make for the Tech Museum. The Maxgames video tournament, hosted there, will see gamers competing on a variety of console games including Halo, Mario Kart: Double Dash and SSX3 on a 40 by 60 foot IMAX screen. Surround sound comes courtesy of 44 speakers dotted through the auditorium. Beats the portable TV in the spare room.
Sony’s hybrid PS2 device that features a hard disk and TiVo-style TV recording options is to get an upgrade in Japan, July 1. The two new models retain most of the specifications of the original two PSX models, adding new recording options. These include constructing interactive menus during DVD recording, dividing recorded items into chapters and adjusting record quality between hard disk and DVD. The original models will get the functionality too via a firmware update. The PSX is scheduled to launch in Europe in 2004. It has not launched in the US yet.
Games industry trade site GamesIndustry has a smart and sobering opinion piece on why Xbox 2 launching in 2005 could be a bad move for Microsoft. Editor Rob Fahey argues that with the PS3 not here until 2006 or possibly 2007, games companies would be faced with a choice of making games for a next-generation console with a small audience at launch, or making games for the current generation of consoles with a large audience. While some companies may opt for both, and some other companies may put all their eggs in the next-generation console space, many could well opt to ignore Xbox 2 until PS2 and or Nintendo’s “Revolution” comes along, making the next-generation pot big enough.
Sign-up to Xbox’s Live Alert scheme and you can now get alerted via instant messages on your PC when friends are on Live on their Xboxes, as well as when tournaments are due to take place and new content for games becomes available.